Biography

Louise Simone Bennett-Coverley (Miss Lou) renowned poet, actress, social commentator, comedienne, folklorist and singer was a beloved Jamaican who for over 50 years made significant contributions to Jamaican theatre, music, culture and literature. Louise Bennett was born on Sunday, September 7 1919 at 40 North Street in Kingston to parents Augustus Cornelius Bennett a baker and Kerene Robinson, a dressmaker. She attended St. Simon’s College, Excelsior High School in Kingston and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in England on a British Council Scholarship.

She was described in a tribute written by Corina Meeks for the Public Relations Society of Jamaica in March 30 1987 thusly: From time to time in the history of a nation there emerges someone on the national scene who seems to embody the very psyche of its people; capable of distilling, interpreting and expressing its collective wisdom , its hopes and its aspirations, its strengths as well as its weaknesses. In Jamaica Louise Bennett is such a person. (Vertical files, National Library of Jamaica).

Louise Bennett’s many awards include OM (Order of Merit), M.B.E. (Member of the British Empire), Hon. D. Litt. from the University of the West Indies, silver and gold Musgrave medals from the Institute of Jamaica and the Norman Manley Award for Excellence in the Arts.

Louise Bennett married Eric Coverley in 1954 and they raised many children including her stepson, Fabian Coverley and adopted daughters Christine, Althea, Odette and Simone. Miss Lou died in Toronto, Canada on July 26, 2006. She was buried on August 9, 2006 in the National Heroes’ Park, Kingston alongside the reinterred remains of her husband.

Access

The Miss Lou archives, MS2177 is housed in the Special Collections at the National Library of Jamaica. The intellectual property rights to the works of the Honourable Louise Bennett-Coverley rest with her estate. Permission to copy, distribute, perform, broadcast, make adaptations or in any way utilise her works must be made with her estate through the National Library of Jamaica.

Researchers may also access additional resources at McMaster University, Canada.

The collection is organized into 10 main series which are further divided into sub-series.

The series and sub-series are as follows:

  1. Correspondences (1943-1988)
  2. This series contains personal and professional correspondences which relate to Louise Bennett and Eric Coverley. All letters to/from Louise Bennett-Coverley (LB) and Eric Coverley (EC) jointly are found here.


  3. Legal and Financial (1947-1988)
  4. This series contains documents that are related to Louise Bennett and her husband's work, property, births, deaths, and marriage.

  5. Writing and Performance (1950-1988)
  6. This series contains prose, poetry, songs and other genres as well as research material, some related correspondence and papers, and material by other writers.


  7. Published and Printed Material (1944-1987)
  8. This series contains material by and about Louise Bennett-Coverley, theatre programmes as well as some material about Jamaica.


  9. Personal and Professional Documents (1883 and 1936-1988)
  10. This series contains Louise Bennett-Coverley’s resumes, interviews with and writing her, notebooks, awards, related correspondence, and other material.


  11. Academic and Other Papers Collected (1964-1981)
  12. This series contains academic papers, and documents relating to information about Jamaica.

  13. Artefacts (1964-1981)
  14. This series contains three items: a filing cabinet, plaque and a purse.

  15. Photographic and Audio-Visual Materials
  16. This series contains photographs, negatives, audio and video tapes collected by and related to Louise Bennett-Coverley, Eric Coverley.


  17. Eric Coverley Papers
  18. Eric Coverley was a famous draughtsman and calligrapher. This series contains professional and personal correspondence related to his work, business and other matters.

  19. Books and Periodicals
  20. This series contains pamphlets, books and serials used by and given to Eric and Louise Coverely at various times throughout her life.